Home / Feature Article / Been There, Done That – How To Fight Feelings of Complacency

Been There, Done That – How To Fight Feelings of Complacency

Editor-in-chief, gerontologist



Sometimes it is difficult to find new experiences in everyday activities.
Sometimes it is difficult to find new experiences in everyday activities.

One of the advantages of getting older comes from having lived through so many experiences. You have a relaxed familiarity with what may happen and have learned valuable coping strategies to deal with what lies ahead.  Often comes the realization that “this too shall pass” and an ability to see things in a more realistic perspective. This acquired knowledge and awareness will frequently reveal itself as heightened confidence and self-assurance in later life.

While having faith in yourself and sureness in your actions are positive attributes, you also want to make sure there is a balance to your outlook. Just because you have lived through numerous meaningful events and regularly dealt with common situations, doesn’t mean there is only your way of seeing it.  Each experience is an opportunity for reflection and personal growth Are you leaving yourself open to new observations and diverse viewpoints?

Sometimes we all need to "shake things up"  a little to fight complacency as we age.
Sometimes we all need to “shake things up” a little to fight complacency as we age.

Feelings of complacency are often the downside of getting older. It is that bored dull feeling you experience watching the conventional tv programs, eating at your usual restaurant and even hanging around with the same people. It is easy to get into a rut and spend day after day in a regimented fashion without even thinking twice about it. The comfortable feeling of knowing just what to expect can be reassuring but at the same time, limiting. There is a danger of getting so used to a particular lifestyle that when you do something even the slightest bit out of the ordinary, you develop a sense of anxiety. Sometimes you need to push yourself just to make sure that you can.

Seek out new adventures or make small but noticeable alterations to your normal activities. For many parents and grandparents, the energized feeling of re-experiencing a place with someone that has never been there before, is profound.  Just being able to see something through “new” eyes is invigorating and great for the soul.  You should be striving to do something different each day. This could include going to a place you have been meaning to visit, contacting someone out of your usual circle you would love to spend time with or signing up for a challenging class. The choices are endless. You will ward off those negative feelings of complacency and apathy that can easily sneak in. It is time to get out of your comfort zone. Let small changes help re-charge the spirit and awaken that youthful part within.

Here are some suggestions to get your started

Do you want an energy boost? Share your talent with kids and everyone benefits.
Do you want an energy boost? Share your talent with kids and everyone benefits.

Kid Friendly – The best way to feel young is to be around younger people. There is an undeniable energy in the air when you are in the presence of children or young adults. Their openness and uninhibited vision is contagious. So many older people live in adult-only communities and the occasional grandchild or young person that visit is few and far between. Living among one’s peer generation exclusively may create a skewed representation on what is going on in the community. There are some who really don’t want to be around children and feel they have already “done their time” in regards to child-related activities.  While this is their prerogative, there are important contributions they could be missing by avoiding an entire age group of people and the uniqueness they bring. Another factor separating kids and their elders is so many families today are scattered all over the country. Grandparents and grandchildren sometimes only see each other on holidays or vacations. Many intergenerational studies show both children and seniors benefit from interacting with one another and sharing perspectives. If you don’t have any children in your daily life and want that connection, there are many volunteer opportunities that could fill this void. Whether it is lending a hand at your local school, community center, library, church or hospital, there are children out there that would really love your care and attention.  Call your local governmental office or chamber of commerce to see what is available in your community. There are also national volunteer organizations that will let you know what is available locally. You can pick and choose where, when and how often. Once you get involved and share your expertise and wisdom with these kids in need, you will get back so much more than you ever imagined. You will feel more alive and younger in no time.

You are never too old to learn. Join a local class or sign up for an online course.
You are never too old to learn. Join a local class or sign up for an online course.

Live and learn – There is nothing better to get the intellectual juices flowing than to learn something new. As John Dewey said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” You really are never too old to learn and with so many educational options out there, now is the perfect time to take advantage of this. The days of taking classes with the stress of earning a degree, meeting job requirements, making good grades and having to pass exams are over. Now you can take a class for pure enjoyment and to better yourself. Many communities offer lifetime learning programs through local colleges and universities. These are usually available for adults 50 years of age and older and costs range from a discounted nominal fee to totally free of charge depending on the program.  In many communities, free courses are also available through local libraries and senior centers. If learning online is more to your liking, there are free educational companies (such as Coursera for example) that offer courses on almost anything you could think of. These classes are provided in connection with U. S institutions such as Brown, Duke and Yale. Worldwide institutions include the University of London, the University of Tokyo and the University of Amsterdam. While Coursera is one of the more well-known educational companies, there are many others joining the movement and offering free courses online. Do your homework and see what course sparks your interest and looks exciting. Your new educational opportunity is just a click away and better yet, without the exorbitant tuition costs or book fees. The added bonus is being able to honestly tell your friends, “Yes, I went to Yale.”


Invite some new friends over for a night of fun.
Invite some new friends over for a night of fun.

Widen Your Circle of Friends – Sometimes being with a new group of people is just what you need to shake things up. If you usually wait until someone else invites you to do something, start thinking about the things you are interested in and you do the inviting. It is easy to fall into a passive role and wait for things to happen. How about instead of popping in a movie and watching it by yourself or with your partner, you invite over some friends and make a night of it? Ask guests to bring some food and drinks to share for a casual dinner before and snacks for movie-time. If you are feeling extra creative, you can design a themed dinner and party corresponding to the movie being shown. For example if you choose “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” you could serve an Indian-inspired menu, play ethnic music in the background and even dress the part. It is much more fun seeing a film with other people and sharing comments and interpretations afterwards. You could start a weekly or monthly movie-watching club, deciding which films to view and members would take turns as host. Another popular trend is game night. Mix some old classics such as Who Am I and charades with some of the newer games like Pictionary and Apples to Apples. Your guests will be laughing, having a great time and asking you when the next game night is. Some other fun ideas to do with friends could include getting tickets to a concert or event you wouldn’t normally go to, trying out new restaurants in your community or taking part in the latest workout trend to change up a stagnant exercise routine. Maybe kick boxing or belly dancing is what you have been looking for to energize your body and awaken your mind.  Just think of all the new and exciting friends you will meet!

[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”2778″]
The following two tabs change content below.

Cynthia Lopinto

Cyn LoPinto, M.A. is a gerontologist focusing on significant issues affecting older adults and their families. Her areas of interest include lifestyle enrichment, family dynamics, and caregiver support. Cyn has worked in both the recreational and healthcare industries.

Latest posts by Cynthia Lopinto (see all)

Check Also

Should You Stay In Your Home Or Move During Retirement?

t pays to plan ahead when it comes to where you’ll spend your golden years.